Staying resilient, adaptive, and strong for bird conservation: Klamath Bird Observatory responds to the Covid crisis

We hope that this message finds you, our community, in good health and in safe places during this unprecedented time of Covid-19. We are happy to report that we remain safe and healthy, and will continue to operate in the midst of this pandemic. We have been working diligently with our staff, Board of Directors, and partners to:

  1. Maintain staff, partner, supporter, and community safety;
  2. Meet KBO and partner conservation science priorities; and
  3. Remain innovative and adaptive in our science-driven approach to bird and habitat conservation.

Safety is at the heart of our operations, and the safety of our crew members, staff, partners, local community, and the rural communities where we work drives our decision making. With safety in mind, and in support of the larger scientific community and science-based recommendations for “flattening the curve,” we have made the very hard decision to cancel the vast majority of KBO’s field studies in 2020.

Our field work requires travel; field crew members come to us from around the U.S. and beyond, and normal field operations require that crews travel throughout Oregon and northern California. Continuing the field season would be at odds with current “Stay at Home” guidelines that are in place in Oregon and California (and many other regions). In addition, it is our responsibility to avoid endangering rural communities where we conduct our field work. Specifically, to not increase use of limited resources in small communities (such as gas stations and general stores), risk transporting the virus to areas where it is not yet prevalent, or risk needing to call on limited emergency services to assist us if an injury or other emergency were to occur.

Based on the current scientific projections for the pandemic and the needs of all citizens, we do not anticipate returning to “business as usual” this month. This limits the time available to ensure our field crews are well trained and well prepared to keep birds and themselves safe, and to do the excellent field biology that makes KBO stand out. While disappointing, we are confident that scaling back our field projects is the right decision. We look forward to returning to our ongoing field studies in spring of 2021, invigorated and eager to complete a productive season.

Field work comprises a large part of our spring and summer operations at KBO; however, our full time staff is taking advantage of this time out of the field to drive conservation planning and action by coordinating long-term monitoring, theoretical research, and applied ecology. Our current projects include:

  • Maintaining core field studies that are both time dependent and possible to implement while following state recommendations for social distancing and limiting travel,
  • Publishing results from our science,
  • Revising conservation plans to keep them up to date and usable by partners,
  • Advancing Motus technology that enhances our ability to track bird migrations,
  • Informing land management locally and throughout the Pacific Northwest,
  • Standing at the forefront of making bird data available to scientists and land managers,
  • Contributing to a game-changing response to the loss of 3 billion birds since 1970, and
  • Celebrating the 30-year anniversary of Partners in Flight.

We sincerely appreciate, and still need your support! You, our KBO community, have been on our mind. As we have been focused on ensuring KBO’s sustainability in this uncertain time, we have also been thinking about and working on new and innovative strategies for staying connected with and inspiring our audience.

May 9th is World Migratory Bird Day, and this year the theme of this global celebration is “Birds Connect Our World.” Given this time of uncertainty and isolation the underlying meaning of this core message seems incredibly profound. We are therefore actively planning creative new ways to connect us all through our love of birds. We will start next Saturday with an online celebration of World Migratory Bird Day and our future in bird conservation. So please stay safe, stay healthy, and stay tuned!


Klamath Bird Observatory
PO Box 758
Ashland, Oregon 97520


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KBO is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt non-profit organization. Charitable donations to KBO are tax-deductible.
Tax ID# 93-1297400

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